Page images

ton and the province, in the best posture for defence against the enemy, but also for giving their invaded neighbors in Georgia, all the relief and assistance his circumstances would permit; and that if the officer who commanded the relief sent to the coast of Georgia, did not think fit to pursue and attack the enemy, with the twelve vessels under his command, the governor of Carolina was not chargeable with that neglect, as he had directed that officer to adopt the most effectual measures for repelling the present invasion of Georgia, and destroying the ships and vessels of the Spaniards; as well while they continued with. in the ports, harbors, or districts of that colony, as on the sea-coast thereof, or even in Augustine itself : and that the commodores conduct, had not been consonant to the governors orders, was matter of real chagrin. This effort to throw the blame upon the commodore, was a flimsy resort: the enemy was treble his number and force; yet he was required not only to drive them from the coast of Georgia, but to annoy them in their own port. The narrow and impolitic consideration of its own security, appears to have been the gov. erning principle of Carolina; nor had the governor been able to overcome the chagrin-occasioned by the appointment of Oglethorpe, to'the chief command over that province, as well as the one of which he was governor. When the Spanish troops returned to the Havanna, their commander was arrested and

tried by a court martial, found guilty and dismissed with disgrace, for his improper conduct on an expedition, the result of which proved so shameful and ignominious to the Spanish arms. After the invasion of Georgia, the Spaniards made an effort to strengthen the frontier of EastFlorida, by sending a troop of dragoons to St. Johns river, where they attacked and defeated a party of Indians. Oglethorpe was informed the next day, that a strong party was on their march from Augustine to reinforce them. On the 20th of March, the general embarked in small boats against them, with the highland company and the rangers of his own regiment, and landed in the Inight at St. Johns, where he was joined by the Indians. They advanced undiscovered in the night, surprised the Spaniards, and killed upwards of forty of them, with the loss of only one Indian: the next morning the general pursued the enemy so closely, that his Indians killed several of their rear guard : he continued the pursuit to Augustine, where he used every effort to draw the Spanish force out to action, but without ef. fect—he posted the grenadiers and some of his troops in ambuscade, advanced himself with a few men and some Indians in sight of the town, intending to skirmish and retire, in order to draw them into action, but to no purpose. The Indians pressed the retreating enemy so close that several were killed under cover of their cannon: having driven the enemy into their strong hold, he returned to Frederica.

The Carolinians were still divided in their opinions, respecting the military character of Oglethorpe ; while one party acknowledged his signal services, and poured out the highest encomiums on his courage and military skill, another shamefully censured his conduct and meanly detracted from his merit. No public notice was taken of his services in South-Carolina, except by the inhabitants in and about Port Royal : from which place a number of them addressed him as follows:–

“We the inhabitants of the southern parts of Carolina, beg leave to congratulate your excellency on your late wonderful success over your and our inveterate enemies, the Spaniards ; who lately invaded Georgia, in such a numerous and formidable body, to the great terror of his majesty’s subjects in these southern parts. It was very certain that if the Spaniards had succeeded in those attempts against your excellency, they would also have entirely destroyed us ; laid our province waste and desolate, and filled our habitations with blood and slaughter; so that his majesty must have lost the fine and spacious harbor of Port-Royal, where the largest ships of the British nation may remain in security, on any occasion.

“We are very sensible of the great protection and safety we have long enjoyed, by your excellency’s being to the southward of us, and keeping your armed sloops cruising on the coast, which has given more security to our trade and property than all the ships of war ever stationed at Charleston; but more by your late resolution in frustrating the attempts of the Spaniards when nothing could have saved us from utter ruin, next to the providence of Almighty God, but your excellency’s singular exertions, and the bravery of the troops under your command: we think it our duty to pray God to protect your excellency, and send you success in all your undertakings for his majesty’s service; and we assure your excellency, that there is not a man of us, but would most willingly have ventured his all, in support of your excellency, and your gallant troops, had we been assisted and put in a condition to have been of service to you ; and that we always considered our interest to be so united to that of the colony of Georgia, that had your excellency been cut off, we must have fallen of course.” The governors of New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and NorthCarolina, addressed letters to general Oglethorpe, congratulating him upon the important services rendered to the colonies; and assuring him of the interest they felt in the honor he had acquired by his indefatigable exertions, constant exposure, extraordinary courage, and unequalled military conduct; offering their humble thanks to the Supreme Governor of the universe, for placing the fate of the southern colonies under the direction of a general, so well qualified for the important task,

While these governors and a few of the inhabitants about Port-Royal in South Carolina, were thus tendering tributes of respect and gratitude to general Oglethorpe, reports prejudicial to his character were circulating in Charleston, particu

larly by the writers of some letters which were

addressed to the trustees, and pamphlets to the public, which have been noticed heretofore ; insomuch that his honor and integrity were called in question: these malicious rumours had reached London and occasioned some of his bills of exchange to be returned to America, protested. Lieutenant Colonel William Cook, who owed his preferment to the general's particular friendship, on pretence of indisposition, had left Georgia before the invasion; exhibited nineteen charges against him, and named several officers, soldiers and citizens in Georgia, who were to be summoned to prove the general's guilt. As Oglethorpe had stretched his credit, exhausted his strength, and risked his life for the defence of Carolina and its frontier Colony, such a recompense must have been equally mortifying as it was unmerited : and as such injurious treatment could not have had its birth amongst the wise and worthy part of the community, it must be ascribed to the envious and malicious, too many of whom are to be found in all communities. Envy cannot brook the blaze of superior virtues; and malice rejoices in the stains which even falsehood throws on a distinguished character: and under

« PreviousContinue »